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Family Foot & Ankle

Athlete's Foot: Fighting Foot Fungus

Maybe you’ve experienced this before, or seen it in your kids: scaly rash, flaky skin between toes and on top of the foot, terrible itchiness or even burning sensations—especially right after you take off your socks.

Athlete’s foot is a very common (albeit, embarrassing) fungal infection. It’s especially prevalent among kids and athletes, but it can and does affect men and women of all ages—in fact, it’s estimated that perhaps 7 out of 10 people will contract it at one time or another in their lives.

Itching FeetThis annoying skin condition is usually caused by a fungal infection. These pesky microorganisms typically love damp, dark, and dank spaces (think locker rooms, showers, or the inside of a boot) and spread very easily from person to person through contact with shared surfaces, such as shower mats. Most cases are relatively mild—you may only notice a bit of itchiness, redness, dryness, or scaliness—but bad cases can lead to ulcers, blisters, oozing, and feverish symptoms.

Although athlete’s foot is usually not medically serious and many people ignore it for a while, it really is a good idea to take control right away. The infection is highly contagious and can even spread to your hands (if you constantly pick at the itchy skin), toenails (many of the same fungi also cause fungal toenails), and family or friends. Furthermore, if you suffer from an immunodeficiency disease, such as diabetes, you are at increased risk and should seek medical advice as soon as you can.

Treatment for Athlete's Foot

The good news is that the fungus that causes athlete’s foot usually succumbs to over-the-counter topical medications that you can apply at home, including clotrimazole (Lotrimin), terbinafine (Lamisil), and others. These treatments typically require 2 applications per day for four weeks, or at least one week after symptoms disappear. Home treatments may also include powders or sprays.

If at-home care is not effective, it’s time to call Family Foot and Ankle Center. We can prescribe powerful antifungal medications to be taken orally, or run tests to see if your infection is caused by something other than a fungus.

As with many infections, prevention is key. Avoiding athlete’s foot—or keeping it from returning—requires protecting your feet from contact with potentially infected surfaces, and depriving your feet of the conditions that fungus craves.

Keep your feet clean and dry, particularly the spaces between your toes. Stick with moisture-wicking socks and well ventilated shoes, and change both regularly. In fact, it’s best to have at least two pairs of shoes that you can alternate between every other day, and you can also use antifungal powders on your feet or inside your shoes, too. Going barefoot at home also gives your feet a chance to dry out.

Whenever you enter public places where fungus is likely to spread, such as the pool or the gym, never go barefoot. Always bring shower shoes and sandals to give your soles that extra protection.

For help with stubborn athlete’s foot, especially if over-the-counter treatments have failed, symptoms are severe, you have diabetes, or you think the condition may be spreading to your toenails, call Family Foot and Ankle Center. Let our experts help you regain healthy skin. Dial (513) 728-4800 , KY: (859) 282-1572, or set up an appointment via the contact form on this website.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.